For anyone who has had acne – or, perhaps, still does – will be relieved to know that dermatologists in the U.S. have made a ground-breaking discovery in their search for new treatments.
Lead researcher of the study, Dr Richard Gallo, interim chair of dermatology at the University of California, San Diego, says the discovery came after he and his team started thinking about all the different bacterias that our skin is exposed to.
While our skin may sometimes not react to these bacterias, Dr Gallo and his team wanted to pin-point the reason why it does - leading to inflammation and, at times, infection.
The researchers then turned their focus to Propionibacterium acnes bacteria. While this usually lives on the skin without causing inflammation, when this bacteria comes in contact with a clogged pore, or is surrounded by oil or no air, it causes acne.
What they also uncovered is that the P. acnes then emits fatty acids that actually prevent certain cells in your skins outermost layer from protecting the skin.
The result? An inflammatory reaction.
"Basically," Gallo said, "we've discovered a new way that bacteria trigger inflammation."
By identifying what triggers this bacterial reaction, scientists are now better equipped to develop treatments that will help reduce pimple-like bumps and inflammation of the skin.
Don't know if you have acne? Here's how to spot the signs - and the steps you can take...
What is acne
Acne is a medical skin condition that sees your hair follicles becoming inflamed, causing blackhead and pimple breakouts, as well as cysts.
Commonly diagnosed in someone’s teenage years, acne can last for up to 1 to 10 years, but, in some cases, it can also continue into someone’s thirties or forties.
What causes it?
Acne is usually triggered by hormones associated with puberty and, in the case of women, the menstrual cycle.
Androgen hormones are released into the body come puberty, with these hormones pushing the oil glands in the skin to produce more oil. According to Better Health Victoria, bacteria living on the skin absorbs this oil, but the by-products of this can block pores and irritate the skin, which, in turn, creates blackheads, pimples and cysts.
How can it be treated?
There are currently numerous treatments for treating acne ranging from cleansing your skin, wearing water-based, oil-free make-up and pulling your hair back to keep it off your face.
You can pick up off-the-shelf acne treatments, but always talk to a pharmacist first.
If these treatments don’t help your skin, your doctor can prescribe over-the-counter treatments.
Most importantly, resist the urge to squeeze or pick at these pimples to avoid infection and scarring.
If you want to find out more about acne and its treatments, contact your GP or pharmacist for more information.
Words: Ellie McDonald